Bears Refuse to Follow New Kickoff Rule, NFL Cracks Down During Game
Any time there is a rule change there is bound to be opposition. When the NFL decided to move kickoffs back to the 35 yard line, six teams were unhappy with the decision. One of the six, the Chicago Bears, decided to do something about it during their first preseason game on Saturday. Rather than adhering to the new rule, Chicago lined up and kicked the ball from the 30 yard line as if nothing had changed.
As Mike Pereira shared with us on Twitter, via Shutdown Corner, the Bears got away with kicking off from the 30 twice without officials noticing. After the second time, the NFL’s vice president of officiating, Carl Johnson, called Soldier Field and made the officials aware of what was going on. The Bears were then forced to kick from the 35. Lovie Smith told the Chicago Sun-Times that his team’s decision to kick from the 30 was not a mistake.
“[Bears kicker]Robbie Gould … we can put it on the 35 and he can kick it out each time,” he said. ”We’re not really getting a good evaluation of what we can do coverage-wise on some of our players. That’s what we were trying to do with it.”
A lot of the players who are on the NFL bubble gain recognition on special teams during the preseason, so Smith has a point in that sense. If there’s a touchback on every kickoff, guys are not getting a chance to showcase their abilities and state their case. That being said, the rule was passed for player safety, which the league takes very seriously. Lovie made his point but should not be surprised if the league makes theirs by penalizing the team.